Albaugh Family Stable’s Brody’s Cause began serious preparation for a start in the May 7 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.80 over a fast track Saturday morning at Churchill Downs with exercise rider Tammy Fox in the irons.
The breeze was one of six recorded workouts during Churchill Downs’ special 8:30-8:45 a.m. training window, which is exclusive to possible starters in the Kentucky Derby and Longines Kentucky Oaks.
Churchill Downs clockers timed the Brody’s Cause, a son of Giant’s Causeway, in fractions of :12.40, :24.60, :36.60 and :48.60 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.60. This was his first breeze since a 1 ¾-length victory in the April 9 Toyota Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland.
“It’s just what we wanted,” trainer Dale Romans. “I know it sounds cliché, but you can’t hide these Derby horses, everybody’s watching them. We wanted to go with a nice easy work. It’s the first one back off of the race and he went around there perfect. Tammy [Fox] said he felt great.”
Last September, Brody’s Cause broke his maiden over the Churchill Downs main track lighting up the tote board at odds of 33-1.
“It just takes one unknown out of the equation,” Romans said of the horse’s experience over the Louisville oval. “That’s important because this track is so different form a lot of others. Some horses don’t run well on this surface, so we know that’s not going to be a problem. We thought he was good from the time we got him.”
Brody’s Cause made his 3-year-old debut in the March 12 Tampa Bay Derby (GII) where he was a disappointing seventh beaten 12 lengths.
“I quit trying to figure that one out,” Romans said of the Tampa Bay Derby. “I just kept training him, stuck to the plan and ran in the Blue Grass and he did his job. Sometimes you’ll never figure it out. Everybody tries to look for reasons but I’ve found that it’s better to just come up with no reason than a false reason and try to change something.”
Also breezing for Romans on Saturday was Kentucky Oaks hopeful and Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) winner Go Maggie Go, who went five furlongs in 1:00.80 with eighth-mile splits of :11.60, :23, :35.40 and :47.80 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.40.
“The whole complexion changed when we lost the big filly [Songbird], but she’s training about as good a filly as I have had,” Romans said of the daughter of Ghostzapper. “It’s a lot to ask of a filly making her third start of her life, but it was a lot to ask to run her in the [Gulfstream Park] Oaks the second start of her life. She just keeps on training better and better.”
Romans opted not to breeze Cherry Wine, who currently sits at No. 25 on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 25 points.
“He’s a little bit of a lighter horse; we don’t need to do much with him,” Romans said. “Right now our chances of getting in the Derby are not looking good so we’ll just try to think [May 21] Preakness.”
Also working following the renovation break was Tom’s Ready, trained by Dallas Stewart. In his third work since a runner-up effort behind Gun Runner in the March 26 Louisiana Derby (GII) at the Fair Grounds, the son of More Than Ready breezed five furlongs in 1:01 in company with stable mate Forever d’Oro, producing splits of :13.60 and :38, before galloping out in 1:14.20. Tom’s Ready started two lengths back and they finished together.
"I thought [he looked] good,” Stewart said of Tom’s Ready. “He was nice and solid. It was a typical work for him; he laid off a horse [Forever d’Oro] and made a good finish. It was a good fight and that was a nice colt that he worked with.
Stewart reflected on the colt’s first work since the Louisiana Derby, a half-mile drill in :47.60 on April 7, which was the best of 15 half-mile breezes that day.
“That was the first work back; he went :47 and typically you’re looking for :49 or :50,” Stewart said. “He worked in company that time and got head-and-head. Sometimes he gets too eager when he works with another horse. That’s why we let him fall back a little this time. We wanted to get him blowing and get him halfway tired.”
Fellowship, a third-place finisher behind likely Derby favorite Nyquist in the Florida Derby (GI) last time out, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 in company with Awesome Banner, who was timed in 1:01.40. Splits for the son of Awesome of Course were :13, :25, :36.80 and :48.40 before galloping out in 1:13.80.
“He did everything that we wanted him to do,” said Norman Casse, son and assistant to trainer Mark Casse. “This was just what we liked to see two weeks before a big race. Looks like he just skips over the racetrack. He’s full of himself and has a lot of good energy. It’s just everything you look for in a two-week work in our program.”
Fellowship currently sits on the fence of the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard at No. 21 with 32 points.
“As of right now I’m really excited with the idea that we could get to run,” Casse said. “I think he would run really well. He’s obviously not in yet, but I’m actually kind of overwhelmed with how well he’s trained.”
At Keeneland, unbeaten champion 2-year-old and likely Kentucky Derby favorite Nyquist breezed five furlongs in 1:01.80 shortly after 7 a.m. with regular exercise rider Jonny Garcia aboard. Nyquist started the work about a half-length behind Hopeful (G1) winner Ralis, who had jockey Flavien Prat aboard. Nyquist drew even at the head of the stretch and finished about a half-length in front. Clockers caught Nyquist in fractions of :12, :23.80, :35.80, 1:01.80 and out six furlongs in 1:18. His final Keeneland work is scheduled next Saturday with a van ride to Churchill Downs likely the next day.
Other Derby works around the country: Spiral hero Oscar Nominated went five furlongs in 1:00.20 at the Trackside Training Center for trainer Mike Maker; Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator worked five furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:00; San Felipe champ Danzing Candy worked six furlongs in 1:12 – the fastest of 11 drills at San Luis Rey Downs; and Tampa Bay Derby winner Destin breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 at Palm Beach Downs, which was the fastest of eight workers at the distance. Laoban, No. 23 on the preference list and more likely to run in the Preakness, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 at Keeneland.
Elsewhere, Kentucky Oaks contenders continued their serious preparation Saturday morning. Lewis Bay, winner of the Gazelle (GII) last time out at Aqueduct, worked in company with stable mate and Champion Female Sprinter Wavell Avenue, who is targeting the $300,000 Humana Distaff (GI) on the Derby undercard. Both horses, trained by Chad Brown worked a half-mile in :50.20 (splits were :13.60 and :26 with a five-furlong gallop out in 1:03).
Weep No More breezed a half-mile in :49.20 with stable mate No Fault for trainer “Rusty” Arnold. This was the daughter of Mineshaft’s first serious work since springing a 30-1 upset in the Ashland (GI) at Keeneland. She recorded splits of :25 and :37 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.80.
Twelve of the Top 20 likely starters in the Kentucky Derby are on the Churchill Downs grounds: Gun Runner (Barn 38 with trainer Steve Asmussen); Brody’s Cause (Barn 4, Romans), Creator (Barn 38, Asmussen), Lani (Barn 17, Mikio Matsunaga), Mor Spirit (Barn 33, Bob Baffert), Mohaymen (Barn 42, Kiaran McLaughlin), Suddenbreakingnews (Barn 22, Donnie Von Hemel), Shagaf (Barn 42, Chad Brown), Whitmore (Barn 10A, Ron Moquett), Tom’s Ready (Barn 48, Stewart), My Man Sam (Barn 42, Brown) and Majesto (Barn 43, Gustavo Delgado). Also on the backside are Fellowship (Barn 36, Casse), Dazzling Gem (Barn 9, Brad Cox), Cherry Wine (Barn 4, Romans) and Discreetness (Barn 40, “Jinks” Fires).
Two of Brown’s horses are scheduled to breeze Sunday: My Man Sam (6 a.m.) and Shagaf (8:30 a.m.).